BY VICTOR AHIUMA-YOUNG & OSCARLINE ONWUEMENYI
THE two labour centres in the country, Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC and Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, yesterday said the three days warning strike over non-implementation of N18.000 minimum wage by all levels of governments still subsists and the strike would be total.
Leaders of NLC and TUC said the nation’s air space, seaports, financial sector, petroleum industry, manufacturing and other sectors of the economy would be closed during the strike that is scheduled to commence on Wednesday, July 20.
This came as the Federal Government has invited the labour Leaders to another crucial of meeting on Monday to avert the planned strike which the government had already admitted that the nation’s economy would not be able to absolve.
Earlier meeting with labour on Monday deadlocked as labour rejected among others, the payment time table presented by the federal government in which it said the only workers on level 01 to 06 would benefit from the new wage.
NLC in a statement in Abuja asked Federal government, Lagos and the oil producing states to pay more than N18.000, arguing that they had the capacity to pay above the minimum wage.
TUC at a briefing after its National Executive Council, NEC meeting in Lagos, all the 36 states, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, and the private sector would be shut down during the days of strike.
NLC in a statement by its President, Comrade Abduwaheed Omar said: “It is a total shut-down of the entire country. The D-Day we have decided to commence the nationwide strike for our Minimum Wage to be paid is Wednesday, July 20, 2011.
It is a Strike to force the Federal, State and Local Governments and Private Companies to pay the National Minimum Wage and the General Wage Review which by the Constitution and by law is our right. The Federal Government wants to pay only a few workers and not majority workers the Minimum Wage.”
“The State Governments do not want to pay Minimum Wage. So they make illogical excuses like asking for more money from the Federation Account, and asking that the prices of petrol should be increased. The Local Governments claim that they are waiting for the State Governments to pay while the Private Sector says it is waiting for the Federal Government to pay.
They are playing workers around like football. The NEC of the NLC has painfully observed that over three months since the New National Wage became Law, no Government whether Federal, State, or local Government has implemented it. Also, no private sector employer has paid the new wages.”
It said although many State governments had promised to pay, “there is no negotiated payment table on which the Minimum Wage is based. Unfortunately, State Governors are allowing their colleagues to hold them to ransom on the implementation of the New National Minimum Wage. Even the Federal Government has also fallen foul of the Minimum Wage Law. The attempted decision by the Federal Government to make the New National Minimum Wage implementation applicable only to workers on Grade Level 01 to 06 in the Federal Service is not acceptable to us.
Therefore, both the payment table and the implementation circular presented by the Federal Government are rejected by the Congress.”
According to NLC, it expected that the Federal Government would set a good example as a good employer to pay above the minimum N18, 000, saying “This will be in line with the Labour-Federal Government understanding in year 2000, that the Federal Government, Lagos, and oil producing states would pay higher than the minimum wage. This was the reason that the Federal Government, Lagos and oil producing states paid a Minimum Wage of N7, 500 which was higher than the legislated Minimum Wage of N5, 500.”
“Given the non-implementation of the Minimum Wage by the Federal, States, and Local Governments, as well as the private sector, the Labour Movement is left with no alternative than to defend the Minimum Wage Law, interest of working people and the Fundamental Human Right of the Nigerian populace to live above poverty line. We also have the historical duty to hold government accountable to the people and ensure that governments at all levels obey the laws of the land.”
Addressing Jounalists after its NEC meeting, President-General of TUC, Comrade Peter Esele, said, “The NEC-in-session insists that all states and private sector employers must comply with the provisions of the 2011 Minimum Wage Act and no group at whatever level should contract out of the law on this issue.
The NEC-in-session condemns in its entirety the unfortunate call by the Governors’ Forum that the total implementation of the minimum wage act be predicated upon a review of the revenue allocation formula in favour of the states. The NEC-in-session also condemns the call for the removal of Petroleum Subsidy as a basis for the full compliance with the provisions of the minimum wage act.
The NEC-in-session directs all its affiliates to embark on a three-day warning strike effective from Wednesday the 20th of July to Friday, the 22nd of July, 2011 and calls on all-well meaning Nigerians to show understanding and support.”